Over 700 Indian students in Canada received deportation letters from the Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA) recently after the authorities found their ‘admission offer letters’ to educational institutions in the North American country to be fake.
These students had applied for study visas through the firm ‘Education Migration Services’ in Punjab’s Jalandhar which is headed by Brijesh Mishra, several reports in the media claimed. Mishra had reportedly charged more than Rs 16 lakh per student for all expenses excluding air tickets and security deposits. The fee included admission fee to the premier institute Humber College.
The students travelled to Canada in 2018-19 to study there. However, the major fraud came to light when these students applied for permanent residency (PR) in Canada which brought the ‘admission offer letters’ under scrutiny. Upon examination, the CBSA found that the documents based on which the visas were issued to the students were fake.
According to people familiar with the matter, these students had already completed their studies, got work permits and also gained work experience there. However, the problem appeared when the applied for PR. They said that this fraud is one of its kind that has come to the fore in Canada for the first time and it is a result of a large number of applicants to Canada.
Another Jalandhar-based consultant who has been sending students to Canada for the past 10 years, was quoted by The Indian Express as saying that there were multiple factors involved in the fraud including getting forged offer letters of colleges to providing forged fee payment receipts to the students for visas as they are only issued after depositing the fee to the colleges.
An established consultant from Kapurthala said, “In this case most of the students were provided the offer letters of such colleges where they did not study eventually after landing in Canada. They were either shifted to other colleges or asked to wait for the next semester, that is, not in the semester which was shown in the documents at the time of applying for visas.”
The consultant added that there is a huge rush among Indian students to go to Canada and some fraudulent agents capitalize on this desperation by colluding with private colleges in Canada.
A student from Jaladhar, who is among the victims of this fraud, said that she completed her diploma in computer science from a private college in Canada because when she was seeking visa, she was handed the offer letter of a private college in spite of insisting for admission to a public (government) college. The agent also returned her fee for that and facilitated her admission in the new college. The consultant even told her the she will be able to change her college after reaching Canada.
She further said that there are several cases where students change their college after reaching Canada after paying some commission to the agent. Other students mentioned that that their fee was returned to them by the agent in question because of which they took admission to some other college but failed to update the Canadian government about it. The act of returning the fee made things look less suspicious, they said.
Meanwhile, another consultant was quoted by The Indian Express as saying that in this case, the role of those colleges which issued the admission letters must also be brought under scrutiny, that is, whether they had actually issued them or were they forged by the agent. He also said that the involvement of these colleges should not be ruled out as the students are mostly unsuspecting of such things.
It may be noted that a few colleges in Montreal were blacklisted earlier by the Quebec government amid high rate of admission of international students there. The students who had taken admission to these colleges were advised by the Indian High Commission to file a complaint with the ministry of higher education of the Quebec government. These students were then given negative reviews but now they are being considered empathetically by the Canadian High Commission, a consultant informed. The only option these students have now is reportedly to challenge the deportation notices in court, the proceedings of which could last for around four years.
The Jalandhar Police Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Chahal said that no such complaint has come to his notice at the moment.
The victim students told that the agent played smartly and did not sign any application himself and got the students to sign everything, making the students self-applicants. Hence, it is now difficult to prove the agent’s involvement in the fraud. Consequently, it is also difficult to prove the innocence of these students.